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NHL owners can't agree on changes to schedule but the issue still isn't dead

"I don't think we've heard the last of it," said Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson. "There was a great deal of discussion, and while the required votes didn't land on any one particular schedule matrix, the prevailing sentiment was that change was good and sought.

"What exactly that means still remains to be determined but it will be continually discussed. I would not be surprised something happened."

While the prevailing sentiment was that next season will likely be unchanged, Ferguson disputed that.

"I would think next year is still on the radar," he said.

But Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke gave the impression no changes are forthcoming on the schedule, highlighting the divisiveness of the issue.

"We spent a lot of time on it. It's not an easy issue," said Burke. "You can say that the fans want to see more non-conference opponents. But for a West Coast team, my club travels too much right now. It's not that simple to say that's something our fans want so let's just do it. . . .

"No resolution as far as changing the schedule was reached mainly because we couldn't agree on something that made more sense than what we had."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will form a special committee which will further examine the issue.

More talk on the schedule is expected at the next board of governors' meeting in Dallas next month during all-star week.

"While there is some sentiment by a number of clubs that maybe a change would be good, when you sort through that on balance not enough people believe that a change from what we have would be better than what we have," Bettman said after two days worth of meetings wrapped up.

Some owners would like to see more games between Eastern and Western conference teams and less division play.

The NHL is in the second season of its unbalanced schedule, which was introduced after the lockout ended. Each club plays eight games against divisional rivals (32 in total), four against the 10 non-division clubs in its conference (40 in total) and only 10 games against teams from the other conference - five at home and five on the road.

A source told The Canadian Press that the schedule matrix that got the most votes Tuesday was one that featured six division games instead of eight, and a home-and-home with teams in the other conference.

The source said that matrix "fell one vote short" of the two thirds majority needed to pass it.

"There was no consensus in there but we would like to change," said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland. "Obviously we would like to play more games in the East, being in an eastern time zone.

"There's board of governors meetings in the middle of January in Dallas and I'm sure it will be discussed again there."



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